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Justice and Legitimacy in Upbringing$
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Matthew Clayton

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268948

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199268940.001.0001

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Parents and Public Reason

Parents and Public Reason

Chapter:
(p.87) 3 Parents and Public Reason
Source:
Justice and Legitimacy in Upbringing
Author(s):

Matthew Clayton (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199268940.003.0004

Can parents legitimately enrol their child into controversial religious practices or disputed conceptions of human well being? Many liberals assert that they can, provided that this enrolment does not jeopardize the child’s development of autonomy. This chapter defends the view that the ideal of individual autonomy supports a negative answer to the question. It draws a distinction between autonomy as an end-state to be achieved, and autonomy as a precondition for legitimate enrolment into controversial ethical practices. The argument begins with a defence of the view that parental conduct must conform to certain aspects of Rawls’s ideal of public reason, since it is relevantly like political activity. The intrinsic and instrumental merits of the precondition conception of autonomy are discussed. The chapter closes with a critique of certain arguments for enrolment, which emphasize intimacy or the child’s development of the capacity for autonomous judgement.

Keywords:   autonomy, religion, intimacy, parents, public reason, Rawls

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